By Susan Prince and WAKEUP CALL
Employers get ready! Minimum wage increases will affect numerous states across the country during the remainder of 2014 and into 2015. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. But the FLSA does not supersede any state or local laws that are more favorable to employees. Therefore, if a state has a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum, employers subject to the state minimum wage law are obligated to pay the higher rate to employees working in that state.
The map below shows the states that are increasing their minimum wages over the next 12 months, including the new rate and amount of the increase. We also provide a listing of the states increasing their minimum wages and the effective dates of the changes below the map.
State minimum wage changes effective August 1, 2014
Minnesota: Large employers $8.00 (companies with annual gross sales or business of $500,000 or more); Small employers $6.50 (companies with annual gross sales or business under $500,000) (See additional increase effective August 1, 2015)
State minimum wage changes effective September 1, 2014
State minimum wage changes effective December 31, 2014
New York: $8.75 (See additional increase effective December 31, 2015)
West Virginia: $8.00 (See additional increase effective December 31, 2015)
State minimum wage changes effective January 1, 2015
Maryland: $8.00 (See additional increase effective July 1, 2015)
Rhode Island: $9.00
State minimum wage changes effective June 1, 2015
State minimum wage changes effective July 1, 2015
State minimum wage changes effective August 1, 2015
Minnesota: Large employers $9.00; Small employers $7.25
State minimum wage changes effective December 31, 2015
New York: $9.00
West Virginia: $8.75
Minimum wage woes
The federal FLSA requires that a minimum wage be paid for all hours an employee is “suffered or permitted” to work and that an overtime wage be paid for all hours “worked” over 40 in a week. The FLSA does not specifically define “hours worked” or place a limit on the number of hours an employee may work; it requires only that overtime be paid for any hours worked over 40.
Generally speaking, work time includes all time that employees spend engaged in the principal activities that they are employed to perform. Hours worked also includes waiting time, travel time, other than time spent commuting to and from the employee’s regular place of work; breaks or meal periods that are less than 20 minutes long; and time the employee is required to spend in training, at seminars, or in meetings.
Hours worked for purposes of the FLSA do not include time spent on call, time spent waiting to work, or time when an employee is required to carry a pager or cell phone, provided the employee is otherwise free to effectively use the time for his or her own personal purposes. The FLSA does not obligate employers to pay employees for holidays, vacation, or sick days.
Under the de minimis rule, employers may disregard insubstantial or insignificant periods of time beyond the scheduled working hours, if, as a practical administrative matter, such time cannot be precisely recorded. If employees are checking e-mails for 2 or 3 minutes, employers will likely not have to pay for this time. But if employees are spending 10 to 15 minutes after work hours, employers will have to pay employees for this work time.
The rules are strict, but the penalties are stricter. Paying employees properly now will help you to avoid fines, claims, and lawsuits down the line.